New hardwoods (Beach House #64)

I love putting down new finish flooring. It’s not difficult (usually) and it makes a big difference, fast.

Of course in this house there had to be problems here making it suck way worse than it ever should, but even so this was a pretty rewarding phase of the project once I figured out how to tackle the challenges.

First of all, it wasn’t until I set a sheet of drywall across the floor lengthwise that I realized how out-of-true the floor was. It had a very visible hump down the middle – about 3/4″ on one side, and about 3/8″ down from the crown on the other. Hard to see in pictures but once a long straight-edge was put across it, super obvious. Of course this house couldn’t just have level subfloors. That is too much to ask. 


You can’t see it here because those skinny boards are misleadingly bendy. 

Not an insurmountable problem though – I looked around and did some research and figured out that I had options. I could either 1) tear out the subfloor, level the joists underneath, shim, etc and reinstall subfloor again or 2) do as floorers generally do and use strips of roofing felt and shingles to shim up any gaps. (I couldn’t use self-levelling concrete because I was planning on nailing the floor.)

Can you guess which option I chose?


I even already had all the stuff on hand. And at first, it wasn’t too bad.


But it got worse, and about a third of the way across the room the floor suddenly started sloping towards the window, as well. And not in a nice, even slope either. One corner dipped, and there were a couple random humps thrown in for good measure.

I lost my faith in asphalt strips and decided to abandon the faithless subfloor altogether. I built “sleepers” into the floor that I could nail into instead of into the subfloor. This is a technique traditionally found when installing hardwoods onto concrete, but it worked here perfectly.

Each of these sleepers had to be painstakingly, individually measured, scribed, cut and planed to fit the contours of the floor every 8-10 inches while remaining flat and level in every direction.


Boy, was the floor messed up…about 1.5″ in the worst parts!

So that took me an entire 10 hour workday and now I have holes in the knees of both my work jeans, and I hate my jigsaw with a bitter passion, and I will probably have wood dust in my lungs until I am 67. (I have masks. Somewhere. I just can’t find them.) But the sleepers are cemented down AND screwed in with 2.5″ screws, and they provided a delightfully sturdy base for me to lay the rest of the oak boards on.


Which I did using both glue AND nails, just in case. I’d rather have overkill than midnight anxiety attacks about someone falling through the floor. Or whatever.


I had to dip into a case of the finished boards at the very end there, but the color difference doesn’t matter since we’re going to refinish all the floors anyway. In fact I kind of wish I’d used them from the start – they seemed a higher quality and gave me hardly any splinters worth cussing at. As opposed to the other 3/4 of the boards in the room.


I’ll try and remember to stick a whole-room glamour shot in here as soon as I get all the tools tidied up. One more project checked off the list!

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